You know the health benefits of regular exercise: lower stress, increased fitness, lower risk of certain diseases, improved mood, and more. Perhaps you’re already invested in a solid workout routine or perhaps you’re just getting started. Either way, having the right fitness apparel for your specific workout and body is essential for a variety of reasons. From helping you stay safe during your exercise to helping your recovery, check out our top five benefits of dressing appropriately as you sweat it out.
The most important part of reaching your fitness goals is staying safe while doing so. Period. You can’t exercise and make progress if you’re healing from an injury, or worse, constantly getting injured thanks to wearing improper gear.
Thoroughly research the type of exercise you want to start before you engage with it. For example, say you want to get into something “simple,” like running. Trying to go for a run in jeans is a recipe for chafing at best. You need soft activewear to make sure you stay comfortable as you jog. You also, at minimum, need a supportive pair of running shoes to help protect your joints.
Or, if you’re interested in a contact sport like boxing, you need cross-training fitness gear. Elbow pads, gloves, punching mitts, and headgear are all designed to keep you safe as you spar. Getting into the ring without them risks injury.
Other sports like weightlifting may require gloves, a belt, or chalk for your hands to help make sure you don’t drop the bar or strain your back. Again, research is key here. Staying safe is paramount.
2Breathability and Comfort
Working out generally means working up a sweat. If the clothes you’re wearing aren’t breathable or sweat-wicking, you’re in for a bit of a gross surprise. (As a side note, contrary to popular belief, how much you sweat isn’t indicative of your fat burn.)
Choose materials that are labeled antimicrobial, polyester, or nylon. Polyester and nylon help whisk your sweat up and off your skin. This helps you feel dry and comfortable as you work out. Antimicrobial fabrics are designed to be resistant to—you guessed it—microbes and bacteria. This helps keep you cleaner.
Avoid cotton as much as possible (except for maybe underwear and only if you can change it fairly close to the end of your workout). While cotton is exceptionally breathable, it also holds onto moisture. That means the more you sweat, the wetter and heavier it gets. Plus, when you’re done with your session, it won’t dry out quickly. You’re stuck in wet, smelly clothes until you can shower and change.
Lastly, similar to safety, wearing the right fitness apparel keeps you ultra-comfortable during your exercise. Remember how running in jeans is a no-go? Doing yoga encased in denim sounds pretty uncomfortable too, right? Choose the right gear according to your workout in order to stay comfy throughout.
3Protection from the Environment
If you shy away from the gym and prefer to workout at home or exercise outdoors, choosing the right apparel for your task is essential. The environment plays a very large role in your fitness routine.
Can’t get enough of your local trails for runs? You’re going to need to invest in more than your average pair of running shoes. Look for shoes with extra grip on the bottom to handle unpaved terrain. Bonus points if they’re waterproof in case of unexpected showers or puddles.
Depending on your local environment (more desert-like, forested, by the beach, etc.) you’ll need different clothing. Hotter environments benefit from tank tops and shorts (and sunscreen!) while cooler ones benefit from layers including windbreakers if necessary. The same recommendations apply for hiking, except potentially with different shoes (boots rather than sneakers).
If you love doing yoga in the sun at your local park, invest in (again, lots of sunscreen) or long pants and sleeves to protect your skin. Or, if you’re in the shade, the same long coverage can help keep you warm as you flow.
4Range of Motion
The whole point of exercising, after all, is to move, right? You can’t move well or effectively if you’re wearing the wrong workout gear. Not being able to move correctly is not only a safety hazard but will also inhibit your progress.
Especially in highly active sports like tennis, basketball, or volleyball, having a full range of motion is essential. Prioritize clothing that doesn’t restrict your joints, impede movement, or shorten your stride.
It’s not just for active sports, either. “Low-impact” options like barre or yoga also require the correct fitness apparel to get the full range of benefits. Imagine trying to do a downward dog while wearing hockey pads. You’re just not going to be able to do it.
Or, for a more realistic example, imagine trying to set your new bench press record by wearing a simple hoodie instead of a bench press shirt. Your performance is drastically enhanced or inhibited based on what you wear before you head to your next fitness session.
The proper fitness apparel doesn’t only help you during your workouts. It can also help aid your recovery.
Ever heard of compression wear? These pieces of exercise clothing are tighter than your normal attire. This pressure stabilizes your muscles and decreases the number of vibrations they experience as you’re exercising.
Think of it like a comfortable, flexible brace for your legs as you’re running. This type of clothing is especially helpful if you run on hard surfaces like pavement. Concrete and pavement have very little give, so all that shock energy is traveling up your legs and dispersing into your muscles.
Compression wear helps minimize these vibrations, which leads to less fatigue. That means you can recover more quickly to tackle your next workout with more strength.
Even if you’re not a runner, there’s research to suggest compression wear helps to reduce lactic acid in muscles. Lactic acid is what causes the soreness you feel after an intense workout. Reducing this acid helps prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS.
All of this means your recovery time is shorter so you can get back to your workouts more quickly.
The Best Fitness Apparel Takes Research
You don’t have to spend hours and hours poring over endless internet articles. However, you should absolutely take the time to dig into your specific workout and what clothing will prepare you to complete your workouts consistently and safely.